|"Professor Pettibone, eminent Victorian balloonist, has a problem. He can't get it up. His balloon that is. If he can't reach an altitude of 20,000 feet, and soon, both he and his mysterious travelling companion Hubert Booby will be burned to a cinder by an erupting volcano! But what is Mr. Booby concealing under his overcoat? Do all Ecuadorian peasants have BSc's? And what, in the name of all that's holy, is THE CURSE OF THE BLUE IBIS? ##All these questions, and several others, will be answered when you play 'To Hell in a Hamper', a one-room game by J. J. Guest. ##*Winner of the Adrift Spring Competition 2003 and the ADRIFT End of Year competition 2003* *Winner of three Inside ADRIFT Awards and nominated for five XYZZY Awards including Best Writing, Best Story and Best Game* VOTED *TOP DOG* BY HOME OF THE UNDERDOGS!"
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Mon 9th Jan 2006
By David Whyld - See all my reviews
The winner of the Adrift Spring Mini-Comp 2003, To Hell in a Hamper is the best example yet of just how good really small games can be. Then again, it’s not really a small game as such - only one room, true, but there’s a fair sized game in there and one quite a bit larger than several "proper" games that have made their way onto the downloads page over the past few years.
The storyline follows the efforts of one Professor Pettibone who is an "eminent Victorian balloonist" determined to circumnavigate the world in a hot air balloon. Off he sets, accompanied by a single companion, the strange and quite demented (not to mention bizarrely-named) Hubert Booby. Problems soon become apparent as the balloon seems to have great difficulty attaining the necessary height to pass over an erupting volcano, leading you to the sneaking suspicion that your companion might well have smuggled aboard several heavy items in his ever-expanding overcoat.
Every bit as strange as the writer’s first game Goldilocks is a Fox, To Hell in a Hamper is, if anything, even better. I have to admit that I wasn’t sure whether a one-room game would be much of an entry in the competition but this proved me well and truly wrong (it beat my game as well, but any between-the-lines insults are purely coincidental). There are enough ideas packed in here for several games and the seriously over-the-top humour is always top notch. In particular, Hubert Booby is the sort of character who is just crying out to have a game written about him.
Despite being confined to a single room, To Hell in a Hamper isn’t an easy game by any means. It’s fairly straightforward making a little progress here and there but problems soon hit when you get a further and have to discover new and ingenious ways of getting Hubert to relinquish his remaining items - killing him, alas, isn’t an option. Nor does murder work on his Aunt Gertie despite her nasty habit of constantly whacking me with her cane.
Several amusing features add to the replay value and show a definitive flare for the imaginative: throwing the Egyptian mummy out of the balloon results in an ancient curse being activated; get rid of the dog and it climbs back into the balloon (quite a feat for a dumb animal though not one I appreciated at the time considering the hassles I had gone through to get rid of it in the first place); throwing Hubert’s troublesome Aunt Gertie out doesn’t work well either as the canny old bird grabs hold of the anchor rope and climbs back inside.
As far as one room games go, it’s hard to imagine a better one that this coming around any time soon. Indeed, it’s one of the most amusing games I’ve ever played and will probably take some beating in the comedy stakes.
Logic: 6 out of 10
How logical a balloon risking being destroyed in an erupting volcano due to your travelling companion smuggling a vast horde of items - including his Aunt Gertie, a dog and an Egyptian mummy among other things - under his coat is I’m not sure, but then this was never meant to be a logical game and I don’t think it suffers for it at all.
Problems: 9 out of 10 (10 = no problems)
Nothing major but some of the tasks seemed overly complicated - the one involving the ear-trumpet and the dog in particular.
Story: 7 out of 10
There’s an amusing little back story at the beginning of the game which sets the feel for the adventure well enough. A one room game is never going to have - or need - a lengthier storyline and this one did its job.
Characters: 9 out of 10
Three, although Hubert Booby takes the cake. I tried hitting him with just about every item I could lay my hands on just to see if I could get another of his daft responses.
Writing: 8 out of 10
Very good indeed.
Game: 8 out of 10
Definitely the best one room game I’ve ever played and more than a match for quite a few of the full size games.
Overall: 47 out of 60